In This Issue....
reviewed by Sue Hamilton
The ISDI has always been eager to learn of any lesser known populations of pure Inuit Sled Dogs which might exist, for example in the Russian Arctic perhaps. Another topic of keen interest is what, if any, pure ISDs might still remain in Labrador. Many dogs (assumed to be and which appeared to be pure ISDs) taken to Antarctica in the mid-twentieth century by the Falkland Islands Dependences Service (FIDS, later to become the British Antarctic Survey) were obtained in Labrador.
Despite its questionable title, Wolf Dog, a CBC production of Land and Sea, the long-running series showcasing the culture and history of Newfoundland and Labrador, drew considerable interest in Nunavik and elsewhere when it was aired on Canadian television February 19, 2007. According to this program, as well as information available on the world wide web, the featured topic, the Labrador Husky, takes much of its history and description of use from the Inuit Sled Dog. Yet geographic isolation from other polar regions of North America and deliberate hybridization with wolves, claimed to have been practiced by Labrador Inuit even up to the time when snowmobiles were introduced to the region, created a unique breed, according to Labrador Husky enthusiasts.
Ken MacRury's master's thesis, The Inuit Dog: Its Provenance, Environment and History, devotes an entire chapter to the "dog-wolf controversy". Citing physical evidence and cultural practices, MacRury goes into great detail why crossing of pure ISDs and wolves did not take place. Could dog-keeping cultural practices of Labrador Inuit be so different from those of Inuit in other polar regions? Would Labrador Inuit have considered their pure Inuit Dog to be in need of such "tweaking" and improvement as described by Labrador Husky enthusiasts? Unfortunately Wolf Dog, more "docutainment" than serious examination, goes absolutely nowhere in answering these questions. And, as I chose to settle on viewing this program online, which was offered at very low resolution, it would be unfair to comment on the appearance of the dogs.
You can draw your own conclusions by obtaining a copy of Wolf Dogs at $25.00 CAD for a VHS tape or $30.00 CAD for a DVD. Contact Rosemary Sampson to receive exact shipping charges, payment methods and to receive and fill out a required Standard Release Form; by email: TVSwitch@stjohns.cbc.ca or traditional mail at: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. P.O. Box 12010, Stn. A, St. John's, NL Attention: Rosemary Sampson
Readers who have information about Inuit Sled Dogs in Labrador are encouraged to share their knowledge in The Fan Hitch. Please contact Sue Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.